War is hell, and it’s never more fun to watch than through the safety and comfort of the silver screen. Hollywood’s love affair with the war film is well known amongst both cinephiles and casual moviegoers alike. It’s no secret to historians that the victor in war is the one who writes the history, and it is difficult to argue that America is top dog in the business of winning wars. What is interesting is how American war films choose to portray its prolific history of armed conflict. More often than not, the typical American war film portrays its military in the most positive light it can manage, or the studio risks losing all cooperation from the real military itself in providing fighter jets, rifles, aircraft carriers, servicemen and equipment to the production in the hopes of not only saving money and conveying realism, but more importantly winning the approval of the most powerful and advanced armed forces the world has ever known. On the other hand, this has not stopped a handful of maverick filmmakers from exposing the painful truth of many American wars; that despite all the good the United States believes it does, reality is not so black and white, and occasionally history looks at us* as the bad guys; the aggressors, the tyrants, the invaders, the Great Satan.
Archive for the Movie Reviews Category
Abraham Lincoln is arguably the most popular, beloved, hated, and talked about president in American history; yet for some unknown reason there are astonishingly few feature films that center exclusively around the 16th president of the United States (not including documentaries). In the typical civil war film, he is only seen for a brief moment or barely mentioned in passing, if at all. In fact the disparity is even greater with George Washington. When’s the last time anybody made a movie about the founding father(s)? The only hypothesis is that filmmakers just don’t like making movies about dead presidents. The majority of filmed entertainment featuring a portrayal of Abraham Lincoln is either television shows or a few cheaply produced made for TV movies. Half of the time it’s in the form of a comedy skit where Abe Lincoln fraternizing with Bill and Ted on their excellent adventure is the entire punch line.
In the pantheon of legendary Westerns, few films subvert our expectations and push the envelope as far as Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, 2012). Compared to the classical westerns of say, John Ford [Stagecoach (1939) or The Searchers (1956)], or spaghetti westerns like Once Upon a Time in The West (Sergio Leone, 1968), Django Unchained is like, one hundred trillion times better because it’s not as boring as those old movies. Nah I’m kidding, those old movies are good too, but the purpose of this essay is to talk about how Django is in another ballpark entirely. It’s really something new and exciting. To put it succinctly, it represents the pinnacle of post modern revisionist Westerns. For those not in the know, a post modern film is anything made after 1994. Okay, all joking aside, let’s cut to the meat of it shall we? The central theme underlining the bold direction of Tarantino’s latest effort is simple and sublime; classical Westerns are racist. Tarantino has not just redefined the Western for a new generation of filmgoers, but also spawned the birth of an entirely new sub-genre: the Southern.
Léolo is a stinking gutter fuck of a good time. The worst that Internet porn has to offer, packaged in a neatly wrapped art house bow tie that actually predates the Internet, but predicts the burlesque grotesque-ity like a fortune teller dropping a massive deuce. Filled with semen, feces, bestiality, incest, fetishism, masturbation and girly men. It’s all here, and slut bag director Jean-Claude Lauzon is absolutely DGAF about it all. This film is incoherently blasé about good taste, but maybe that is it’s charm. Who is the judge of good taste anyway? Well, like all great art, it stirred an emotional response from me. The same emotional response one would get when you are offered money to have sex with a house cat in heat.
Alien Resurrection is a profound example of strained, nasally congested “good-enough”. They say the best movies always look as though they came together all by themselves. Effortless, and magical. Well, Alien Resurrection looks as though it was very carefully crafted from a set of logarithmic parameters, input into a Movie Calculator, and the results processed by an army of technicians, craftsmen, artists, a French director, and H.R. Giger‘s forgotten royalty checks. In short, it looks deliberate; full of effort, not magical. A formula. A formality. A filmmaking exercise in “good-enough”.
Baby Face was a controversial film about a superbitch who ruins men’s lives with sex and discovers that she too, can be ruined by the sex of men. Or rather, the sex of jewelry, gems, and Benjamin’s. Barbara Stanwyck looks gorgeous in her role of Lily Powers, the poster child for 1930’s feminism, and future grandmother of Max Power. Real men dig feminists. I read it in a book once. After being raised to be a prostitute by her scumbag father in their family owned speakeasy during the Great Depression, Friedrich Nietzsche, in a surprise cameo appearance, tells her to go use and destroy the lives of filthy, dirty stupid men to get what she wants. A fun film for all ages that you can show to your 5 year old daughter!
The Social Network fills me with awe. It highlights some of the worst qualities of our generation and paints a pathetic portrait of just how morally bankrupt and disconnected we’ve all become, ironically enough because of how connected we’ve truly become. This film is a warning. It does not glamorize the assholes who made Facebook, but instead tells us to take a step back, to look at how socially isolated we’ve gotten and to take immediate action to reverse the problem. In effect, this movie tells you to delete Facebook, lest you become a supporter of the new fascist digital democracy.